Grace Cathedral

There is another story from my California vacation I would like to share with you.  While driving through San Francisco, we came across a Neo-Gothic church that looked very interesting and decided to stop and take a look.  It was Grace Cathedral. 

The Cathedral was built on the piece of land donated by the Crocker family after their mansion on this site was destroyed by the 1906 earthquake and the subsequent fire. 

The Cathedral turned out to be very impressive inside and out.  To start, the Cathedral entrance doors were a copy of the spectacular Gates of Paradise - the doors of the Florence Baptistry that I actually saw myself and photographed during my trip to Italy in 1998. 

On the floor of Grace Cathedral there was a labyrinth that was based on the famous medieval labyrinth of The Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres located in France. It is said that if a visitor walks the pattern of the labyrinth, it will bring them to a meditative state.  There were not too many visitors, but quite a few of them walked the labyrinth.  I did not notice them going into the meditative state, however.  In fact, most of them were giggling :)

Frescoes in Grace Cathedral depicted scenes from San Francisco history as well as scenes of life of St. Francis of Assisi - San Fancisco's patron saint.  They were quite modern-looking which was to be expected given the fact that the Cathedral is relatively young.

The Cathedral also featured stained glass windows mainly made in blue, red and yellow.  Some of the windows were traditionally geometric, while others looked quite modern.  These modern stained glass windows got really stuck in my head.  They reminded me of graffiti, of older movie posters, of linocut.  They were like a stylistic bridge between the ancient stained glass and the modern abstract style - something I am seeking to achieve in my works. 

The colorful blue, red and yellow windows inspired me to create these two sun catchers.  They are abstract compositions of stained glass, bevels, cut rondelles, glass nuggets and agate geode slice.  I only hope that my sun catchers will remind you of Grace Cathedral windows just a tiny bit.

And finally, I have to mention something else Grace Cathedral held.  It was an image of St. Mary Magdalene, a modern icon that was commissioned to commemorate the election of the first woman bishop in the Anglican communion.  The inscription at the bottom of the icon reads: "Saint Mary Magdalene" in Syriac, a dialect of the language spoken by Jesus.

I would say that this icon was the strongest visual statement I came across in a long time.  I think it requires no commentary.

P.S. Today a 5.8-magnitude earthquake in central Virginia rattled much of the East Coast.   I have to admit, it was quite scary when the house shook around me for what seemed a very long time and turned out to be less than 30 seconds.  This earthquake prompted much thinking on my part and sure did expedite my writing about Grace Cathedral.